William Cowper and his decorated copperplate initials.Anat Rec B New Anat. 2005 Jan; 282(1):5-12.AR
William Cowper was an 18th-century London surgeon/anatomist who made important contributions to several medical disciplines. He achieved lasting fame for describing the bulbourethral glands and lasting infamy for pirating plates for his anatomical atlas, the Anatomy of Humane Bodies. Cowper wrote the books and papers that taught the forerunners of today's surgeons and anatomists. His most famous pupil, the great surgeon William Cheselden, was one of the teachers of John Hunter, the founder of modern surgery. Cowper's magnificent atlas of human myology, the Myotomia Reformata, is a showcase for exquisitely rendered illustrations of muscles and bones. Cowper populated his masterwork with dozens of delightfully decorated initial letters depicting anatomical scenes. This article introduces readers to the long-forgotten William Cowper and exhibits his stunning historiated letters in all their glory.